If all Tom Wilson had to bank on was Lee Harvey Osmond, chances are he’d still be doing fine, the group’s odd handle notwithstanding. The fact that Wilson has also earned kudos in his previous bands, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Junkhouse specifically, finds him offering further commitment to cause. A Canadian journeyman in every sense, Wilson continually varies his persona, from the blues-rock designs of Junkhouse to the Americana intents of the Rodeo Kings. Even so, Lee Harvey Osmond is his most unusual undertaking to date, boasting a style that’s both soft and sinister in equal measure.
Three albums on, the project depicts a persona that might have been birthed in the bayou before slowly and deliberately snaking its way through the swamp. The sly shuffle of “Laser Without Your Love,” the vampish “Blue Moon Drive,” and the jazzier approach of “Black Spruce” find Wilson spreading his wings, no doubt encouraged by the Polaris Prize nomination the project’s debut, A Quiet One, was accorded in 2010, as well as similar honors and Juno Award nods that were bestowed on its follow-up, The Folk Sinner, three years later.
Yet, the best offerings of this album are also the most subdued — the measured “Hey, Hey, Hey,” the raspy sprawl of the slower paced “Planet Love,” and the solemn, somber balladry of “Dreams Come and Go.” Each brings to mind the imagined result of an unholy alliance between Tom Waits and Nick Cave, one that might also find Leonard Cohen lurking in the dark shadows. Happily then, Wilson’s ominous growl syncs well with the album’s general sway and rumble, making for an insurgent sound if ever there was one.